Below is a report from a pastor who is working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and my response to him.
My wife and I just visited the nation of Lebanon, where we spent several heart-breaking days serving Syrian refugees who are living in makeshift tents and crowded one-room apartments. They, along with several million others, have fled for their lives to escape Syria's increasingly-chaotic civil war. The majority of the Syrian refugees are Muslim, both Sunni and Shia, but they are not radical terrorists as Westerners might imagine, but just regular folks who were born into a culture that holds them captive. Most have never met a genuine follower of Christ or heard the undistorted truth about Jesus. Now, because of their temporary displacement in Lebanon, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach them with the gospel. And we've found a wonderful ministry in Lebanon with which to partner that is effectively doing just that. So, instead of sending our magazine next month, I'll be sending you a letter that details our strategy to make an eternal impact among Syrian Muslims. Until then, I've included a few photos that show the softer side of Islam...the children, mothers, fathers and grandparents who long for peace in their homeland, and who are trying to survive until that day hopefully arrives
When the genocide of Coptic and Assyrian Christians ends-then maybe it will be a time to reflect on the "softer side of Islam." Our brothers and sisters in Christ have been put to death for their faith and persecuted for 1400 years. To this day-they know the harsh side of Islam. It is easy for people in the west to ignore their plight. The Koran mandates warfare upon Muslims-and Mohammed constantly rebukes the "shirkers" who refuse to fight for Islam.
Interfaith dialogue must begin with the four principles of moderate Islam-
1. Muslims must renounce religious violence
2. Muslims must recognized that legally-they are to be equal with Christians and Jews-this means an end to religious persecution.
3. Sharia law must be viewed as a personal lifestyle choice-no religious coercion.
4. Muslims must recognize the rights of Muslims to convert from Islam-without fear of punishment or death.
I believe it is sinful for Christians to ignore religious persecution that our brothers and sisters in Christ are exposed to-and the belief structures in the teaching of the so-called "prophet," in the sunna, and the Koran that are the basis for such persecution. We must love all mankind-and love the Muslim people-but to ignore and condone their evil practices is a wicked act in itself. I will not be an enabler of this false teaching. If Muslims prayed and studied their Koran-I wouldn't mind-but when we have an international movement slaughtering Christians from Iraq and Iran, to Nigeria and the Central African Republic-it is time to say enough is enough. Muslims are the Pharisees of today. Jesus didn't mince words with the Pharisees of his time-and we shouldn't today. (I know of no other group as legalistic in this modern age-as the Pharisees were in Christ's day.) I have been to Lebanon as well. We must rebuke violence and the false beliefs-in the Koran and Sunna- that justify them. You may say that you can't win people to Christ like that-well, you aren't going to win anyone to Christ by affirming false beliefs-especially false beliefs that perpetuate violence. And maybe-by my approach-exposing and condemning the genocide of Christians-we can end these historic heinous Islamic practices. Just because someone is nice-that doesn't mean their religious is true or good. Some of the nicest people I met in my life were the Hindus I met in India when I was preaching there. There being “Nice Hindus” doesn't justify idolatry and nice Muslims don't make it OK to kill Coptic Christians or Assyrian Christians-and it doesn't make it OK to ignore violence committed by Muslims against our Christian brethren. After going to India maybe I should have written an article entitled “The Softer Side of Idolatry and Polytheism.”
I do agree that most Muslims are held captive by their culture and are “just regular folk.” But who isn’t “just regular folk” after you get to know them? The same could be said of Buddhists, Hindus, and practitioners of witchcraft and voodoo. Are you saying that the Christians of Syria are not “genuine followers of Christ”? Are you saying that Christianity as practiced among Syrian Christians is distorted? How do you know? Do you have any Syrian Christian friends? I do. Have you worked with them in Syria? I have. The Bible says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” Such statements that you have made about Syrian Christians, insinuating that their faith is distorted, isn’t conducive to that goal.
If you haven’t have relationships with Syrian Christians then you are not judging with righteous judgment-but have judged the body of Christ falsely. If you are going to say that Syrian Christians are “distorted”-then aren’t Islamic teachings distorted as well? Especially verses like Koran 9:29 "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."What about the verses that deny the Trinity, the sonship of Christ?-even the crucifixion is denied in the Koran.
Maybe we need to liberate them from this culture that holds them captive by condemning evil deeds such as killing Christians and Jews and verses such as the one listed above that inspire Muslims to commit evil deeds.
We should love and pity the Muslim people-and that love and pity will inspire us to free them by speaking truth to power. How can you love and unbeliever when you don’t love your fellow Christians? –unless the love of Christ is not in you-